Posted: 12 March, 2019
From boosting confidence, building self-esteem and developing independence to becoming stronger, fitter and healthier, there really is no greater way to improve physical and mental wellbeing whilst developing vital life skills, then by taking up cycling.
Three years after the project was set up at the Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, the Marlow Wheels for All project is on the move & is looking forward to helping more people enjoy all-ability cycling utilising its fleet of adapted cycles; from trikes, quads, recumbents, hand-cycles & side-by-side tandems for people to try in a safe setting at the Little Marlow athletics track.
Cycling Projects promotes cycling and champions the right for everyone to ride a bike. Its four programmes (Pedal Away, Wheels for All, Park Ride and Bike and Boots) support and engage communities up and down the country, giving people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to learn something new, make friends and cycle in a safe and comfortable environment.
The charity’s nationally acclaimed initiative, ‘Wheels for All’ is a specifically designed programme that focuses on engaging children and adults with disabilities and differing needs in a quality cycling activity. Equipped with specially adapted bikes and led by a team of fully trained staff and volunteers, the programme welcomes individuals, groups and families to get involved, have some fun and discover the benefits that cycling has to offer.
The diverse fleet of cycles that Wheels for Alloffer at each of its sessions up and down the country, is hugely diverse, with something to suit everyone’s needs and requirements. The staff and volunteers who make it all happen, take a positive approach with a can-do attitude, encouraging all those that attend to believe that anything is possible.
“There is a very positive and inclusive atmosphere at these sessions that is rarely found elsewhere. The mixture of volunteers, cycling enthusiasts and so on means there’s a very knowledgeable resource on hand, that genuinely has a passion for providing this sort of service” explains a parent whose autistic child benefits from the Marlow based programme.
Elliot who has complex learning difficulties is also a keen member of Marlow Wheels for All. His mother explains how the programme has made a positive impact on her son:
‘‘Elliot has clearly benefitted from the confidence and self-esteem that these cycling sessions have given him, as well as the sense of freedom, independence from others and his own control over his immediate environment. He really looks forward to the sessions and I’m sure he gets a great sense of accomplishment, as well as a very good physical workout – he doesn’t stop cycling from the moment we get there until we have to leave.”
Wheels for All is making a profound impact on people’s lives, with it being one of the only charities which not only caters for the whole family, allowing everyone who attend the sessions to take part, but also providing that valuable network, support and sense of community that is so vital in today’s society. The Charity is now on a mission to raise awareness and encourage cyclists from clubs, groups and other organisations from grass-roots sports right through to professional level to get involved and help change people’s lives for the better by supporting the Wheels for All programme.
Ian Tierney, Charity Director [Cycling Projects] explains that “It’s great to see the way this project is looking to develop new dedicated sessions & to offer more people the opportunity to get involved. The support for the project from the local cycling community has been outstanding, in the past few years the Marlow Riders have generously donated over £10,000 from their annual Red Kite Sportive & the Saddle Safari bike shop have even raffled a bike & raised over £3,000 for the charity, which has all helped us buy more adapted cycles & train new volunteers to help run the sessions”.
‘’The evidence is clear every time we run a cycling session, cycling really can improve the health and well-being for those with differing needs. We need to motivate and educate people about what is achievable on a bike, focusing on ability and not disability,” explains James Cavalier, Relationship Director at Active in the Community CIC who along with Serco, who now manage the site, have been instrumental in helping the charity develop the project.
James continues, ‘’the sheer joy and freedom the participants experience whilst enjoying that sense of freedom, is something you won’t see anywhere elsewhere. This positive feeling is also replicated in the volunteers and workers that assist our cyclists in their rehabilitation and personal development and I feel very privileged to play a part in that.”
With the help of Cycling Projects, the nation can make cycling an inclusive sport, changing attitudes, enhancing enjoyment, creating opportunities and celebrating the right for everyone to ride a bike no matter what their experience or ability.
If you’d like to get involved with the Marlow Wheels for All initiative or any Cycling Projects programme, then visit us at www.cycling.org.uk/locations/marlow-wheels-for-all & www.cycling.org.uk